Fight breast cancer, buy stamps

October 2, 2012 10:47:17 AM

Carmen K. Sisson - [email protected]


Columbus post offices kicked off breast cancer awareness month Monday with pink, pink, everywhere, from pink-frosted doughnuts for customers to pink balloons competing for space with envelopes and parcels in the Bluecutt Road facility's lobby. 


It was all for a good cause, said Lee Richards, customer service supervisor. They're hoping people will purchase the United States Postal Service's special breast cancer stamp, the proceeds of which have raised more than $75 million for breast cancer research since the stamp's inception in 1998.  


A book of 20 breast cancer stamps is $11, $2 of which will be donated to the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Defense Medical Research Program.  


Throughout the month of October, Columbus postal customers will receive one raffle ticket for every book of stamps purchased. At the end of the month, a random drawing will be held for three $50 prepaid Visa cards.  


This year's postal campaign has special meaning for two Columbus post office employees, both of whom have been touched by relatives who have battled the disease. 


Janet Westbrook, a rural route carrier in New Hope, said there is a long history of breast cancer in her family: Her mother, grandmother and three aunts were all diagnosed. Though her mother is a seven-year survivor, two of her aunts died when their breast cancer recurred.  


The sales of the breast cancer stamp encourage Westbrook, because she hopes the funds will help researchers find a cure.  


"This is extremely important to me, because I'm probably next," Westbrook said Monday. "All this research could save my life one day." 


Martha Ellington, lead sales and service associate, said her sister was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 60 and had a double mastectomy. There was no previous history of breast cancer in their family. 


She said even though the breast cancer stamp catches people's attention more during October, it is sold year-round.  


"That's a big chunk of change that can go to breast cancer research," Ellington said. 


The breast cancer stamp was the first "semipostal," which is a stamp sold at a higher price to benefit charities. The inaugural design featured a pink ribbon, but when it failed to sell well, it was redesigned.  


The current design was created in 1998 by Bethesda, Md. art director Ethel Kessler, a breast cancer survivor, and artist Whitney Sherman of Baltimore.  


The brightly-colored stamp features a woman's figure, based upon the Greek Goddess of the Hunt, to symbolize strength and courage. It features the words, "Fund the Fight" and "Find a Cure," in a circular pattern, mimicking the shape of a woman's breast.

Carmen K. Sisson is the former news editor at The Dispatch.